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Photos: Battling for Microsoft's Imagine Cup - from RoboNanny to augmented reality

Smart meters, green driving tech and intelligent carpets all make an appearance as students fight to solve world's problems
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By Tim Ferguson on
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1 of 9 Tim Ferguson/ZDNet

Smart meters, green driving tech and intelligent carpets all make an appearance as students fight to solve world's problems

Each year, Microsoft stages the Imagine Cup, a contest that sees students vying to solve global problems through IT.

The competition tasks them with developing technology that could help solve some of the world's most pressing problems such as tackling disease, improving education, protecting the environment, boosting sustainability and reducing child mortality.

This year's competition - the eighth Microsoft has run - attracted entries from 325,000 high school, college and university students from 113 countries.

Students from 70 countries across the world reached the Imagine Cup World Finals in Warsaw, Poland last week.

One of the categories in the competition was embedded development, in which developers use Microsoft Windows Embedded software to turn their ideas into reality.

The final six projects in the embedded development category consisted of teams from France, Korea, Romania, Russia, Taiwan and the UK, all competing for a $25,000 prize.

Shown above are the winning team from Taiwan.

Photo credit: Microsoft

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2 of 9 Tim Ferguson/ZDNet

The team from Taiwan's National Chiao Tung University created Smarter Meter, a system designed to improve home smart meters that records power consumption and lets users know which of their appliances is using the most energy.

The system uses cloud computing technology as well as Windows Mobile and Windows 7.

According to Microsoft, more than a third of the projects shown in Warsaw made use of Microsoft's cloud platform, Windows Azure.

Photo credit: Microsoft

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3 of 9 Tim Ferguson/ZDNet

Here, the Taiwan team presents its Smarter Meter system to the judges in Warsaw.

The team hopes that educating people about using energy responsibly - even on this small scale - could lead to a 25 to 30 per cent reduction in electricity consumption.

Photo credit: Microsoft

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Team UK's entry - from Kevin Pfister from the University of York - was a project called Senses.

Senses is a mobile augmented reality system for partially sighted and blind people to help them with everyday tasks such as reading, identifying objects and avoiding obstacles when out and about.

The system makes use of a headset and a shoulder-mounted camera and is underpinned by Windows Mobile and Windows CE.

Depending on whether the user is blind or partially sighted, the tech uses audio alerts or magnified images to help them work out where objects are.

Photo credit: Microsoft

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5 of 9 Tim Ferguson/ZDNet

The Korean team's R U Gentle system was built by students at Inha University and Pohang University of Science and Technology.

The system is aimed at helping drivers operate their vehicles in the most efficient way, reducing emissions and saving money.

Photo credit: Microsoft

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6 of 9 Tim Ferguson/ZDNet

R U Gentle displays pictures, plays audio and features a scent dispenser to reduce driver stress and thereby, in theory, leads them to drive more responsibly.

Shown above is the Korean team demonstrating the system to the Imagine Cup judges.

Photo credit: Microsoft

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7 of 9 Tim Ferguson/ZDNet

A team from Russia's Moscow City Pedagogical University developed RoboNanny, a humanoid robot to assist with childcare which uses the Windows Embedded CE platform.

The radio-controlled RoboNanny can provide educational activities such as encouraging physical activity.

Photo credit: Microsoft

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8 of 9 Tim Ferguson/ZDNet

The French team based at ECE Paris University developed the Geriatric Emergency Recognition and Assistance System (Geras) which detects when an elderly or infirm person is in danger.

The idea behind the system is to help elderly people stay in their own homes and retain their independence for longer.

The system uses sensors installed around a home to create an 'intelligent carpet', which can detect if a user falls over.

The system will try to communicate with the individual to confirm if it is an emergency and automatically contact someone if no response is detected.

If the user has suffered an accident, the system can either contact emergency services or someone else who will phone for help.

Photo credit: Microsoft

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9 of 9 Tim Ferguson/ZDNet

Other categories in the Imagine Cup included software design, which was won by Team Skeet from Thailand.

The team's eyeFeel system uses speech and facial recognition and a text to sign language translator to help someone with impaired hearing converse.

For more from the Imagine Cup take a look at last year's winners here.

Photo credit: Microsoft

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